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Hindu nationalists hail the murderers of Christians such as the killer of Australian missionary Graham Staines and his sons The Christian community in India remembers Jan. 22, 1999, as the day Australian missionary Graham Stuart Staines, who worked with leprosy patients in Odisha, and his young sons Timothy and Philip, were burned alive. It was on that day that the Western world really came face to face with the violence being meted out to the minuscule religious minority by the Hindutva extremist groups collectively known as the Sangh Parivar. The trio was sleeping in their jeep in a clearing in the Manourharpur-Baripada forest when they were surrounded by a mob led by Dara Singh, a local chief of the militant Bajrang Dal, who had gained a reputation as the scourge of cattle traders driving their animals through forest roads in the state on the east coast of India. Dara Singh had earlier slain a man called Rahman, a Muslim cattle trader. The Staines family massacre remained international news, both in the West and especially in his home country, Australia, for a long time. The triple deaths were horrendous. The father and sons had been set on fire as they slept. As the flames

Mangaluru, Sept 20,2022: The Karnataka government has announced that it would include teachings of the Bhagavad Gita as part of moral education in schools from December this year. B C Nagesh, the state’s primary and secondary education minister, said the government has amended its earlier proposal to introduce Gita as a separate subject in schools and decided to teach it as part of moral education. However, some section of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has objected to introducing the Hindu scripture only as part of moral education and not as a separate topic in syllabus. However, Nagesh said the government has already appointed an expert panel to give their recommendations and suggestions after consulting with various stakeholders. The minister also hinted that some historical mistakes will be corrected in the textbooks like the lesson on Baba Dudangiri, a holy place of Muslims in Chikmagaluru to ‘Inam Dattatreya Peeta,’ a Hindu pilgrim center in the same hills. The text books will have more information on some local kings and their kingdoms too, he added. Last year, several school days were disrupted on account of the hijab row by Muslim girls and attacks on some Christian schools for propagating Christian principles in schools. Father Faustine Lobo, the spokesperson

They want nothing less than the abolition of discrimination based on religious bias and bigotry Congress leader Sonia Gandhi, as the powerful chair of the United Progressive Alliance that ruled India some years ago, once told a small, but high-level, Catholic delegation she met at her official residence, that the best chance “for Dalit Christians getting their rights is in the courts.” “I cannot help you. No political party can," Gandhi said and she was right. The men in white cassocks looked crestfallen. Earlier, Gandhi had been told by a senior Christian leader and federal minister that were she to agree, there would be aggressive opposition not just from the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), or from the upper caste men from within the Congress, but also from Hindu Dalits, within and outside the ruling group. Upper caste Hindus see the Dalit issue as an existential threat. Over the years they have also convinced Dalit leaders across the political spectrum that any concessions given to those now professing the Christian or Muslim faith, would cost them dearly. Dalits who remain Hindus — Sikhs and Buddhists are also deemed to be Hindus or “Indic” — get a 15 percent reserved quota in parliament and state legislatures,

New Delhi, Sept 19, 2022: The federal government’s reported move to set up a national commission to study the socioeconomic and educational status of Dalit converts to Christianity and Islam will prolong the issue of granting reservation to the poorest in the country, bemoan Christian activists. The national media on September 19 reported that the government was all set to constitute the commission. Franklin Caesar Thomas, coordinator of the National Council of Dalit Christians, and John Dayal, a veteran journalist and activist, say several commissions and committees set up by previous governments have endorsed the socio-educational backwardness of Christians and Muslims of Dalit origin people. “The government is repeating what was done two decades ago by retired chief justice of India Ranganath Misra commission, Justice Rajender Sachar commission and a high powered committee led by Prof Satish Deshpande who found religion did not matter where social status of Dalits in India was concerned,” Dayal told Matters India. Dalits, he added, deserved affirmative action irrespective of religion. Article 341 part three discriminated against Pasmanda Muslims and Dalit Christians, he added. Franklin cited several government commissions and committees and studies that have found the socioeconomic and educational backwardness among Dalit converts to Christianity and Islam. They included the

Religious choices are best left to the individual while ensuring the rule of law and constitutional guarantees The situation is tense in India’s northern state of Punjab bordering Pakistan where militant Sikh religious groups continue to put pressure on churches and prayer halls of Catholics, independent churches, and itinerant pastors working among Dalit communities in outlying western districts. Both communities are minorities in the Hindu-majority nation, but Punjab has a large Sikh community and a tiny Christian population. At last count in 2011, Sikhs were about 57.6 percent, Hindus 38.4 percent, Muslims1.93 percent, and Christians 1.2 percent. Efforts at rapprochement have not picked up real traction with the National Minorities Commission actively using institutional muscle on behalf of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which was routed in the last legislative assembly elections in Punjab. The BJP once ruled Punjab in a coalition with the Shiromani Akali Dal, representing the Sikhs, but the coalition broke up on the issue of the contentious farm laws introduced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. The farmers’ protest and the long siege of the national capital New Delhi forced Modi to withdraw the laws, but it was too late. The state elections saw the Delhi-based Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)

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